Loading...

Family Films

Here are the latest Let’s Go With The Children film reviews you can see on the big screen and via streaming or download sites.

The below film guides are written by Mike Davies for Let’s Go with the Children especially with families and kids in mind. Everything from small-scale films to great blockbusters for all the family! Please note that not all 12A films are appropriate for younger children. Let’s Go With The Children offers a guide to what’s suitable for family viewing.


Available now

DC League of Super Pets (PG)

First introduced into the comics in 1955, Krypto was Superboy’s pet dog, send off into space on a test run prior to baby Kal-El making his way to Earth. The super-powered pooch has cropped up in comics and cartoons in various incarnations over the years, but has never been part of the big screen live action DC Universe. However, he now takes centre stage in his own Justice League animated-spin off (based on the Legion of Super-Pets) about him and a team of  four-legged  companions who find themselves bestowed with super powers and called upon to rescue Superman and the other Justice League members when they’re captured by a megalomaniac villain.

The opening sequence explains how, when young Kal-El was placed in a spaceship, his pet jumped in too, growing up to fight crime alongside Superman (John Krasinski), and with a similar nerdy secret-identity. However, our canine crimefighter (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) is having a  bit of an anxiety crisis because Superman’s about to ask Lois (Olivia Wilde) to marry him, meaning he’ll no longer hold the same place in his master’s life.  However, Lulu (Kate McKinnon), a narcissistic hairless purple-eyed guinea pig associate of Lex Luthor (Marc Maron) acquires a variety of different forms of kryptonite, one of which she uses to give herself and a bunch of animals caged in the Tailhuggers Animal Shelter superpowers. These include tough but insecure bulldog Ace (Kevin Hart), PB (Vanessa Bayer), a size-expanding pig who wants to be super-cool,  hyper squirrel Chip (Diego Luna) and myopic turtle Merton (Natasha Lyonne) who gets to be super-fast. Now, with Lulu having imprisoned the Justice League, they and Krypto have to join forces to save the day.

Sporting  similar comic sensibility to the Lego parodies, it’s clearly targeted at the kiddies but there’s plenty of delights for older audiences too, not least a tongue-in-cheek Keanu Reeves voicing an ultra-serious Batman (and questioning whether certain bat-toys are licensed) while a kitten who coughs up hairball grenades pretty much captures the whole spirit of absurdity and fun that’s hard to resist.

106 minutes

In Cinemas

railway children summer film

The Railway Children Return (PG)

Released in 1970, the original film, adapted from E.Nesbit’s novel, with Jenny Agutter in the lead role as young Bobbie, became a classic of cosy British family viewing. A TV retelling  appeared in 2000, with Agutter playing Bobbie’s mother, and she’s back again, this time as her original, now adult, character in a sequel to the first film.

Although now set in 1944, it’s pretty much a carbon copy in terms of narrative. In the first film, set in 1905, Bobbie, her two siblings and her mother relocated to the Yorkshire countryside when their father was convicted of treason and they became impoverished. Here, another set of three children, Lily (Beau Gadsdon), spunky younger sister Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and brother Ted (Zac Cudby), end up in the same village when they’re evacuated from wartime Salford and are taken in by Bobbie, who stayed on in Oakworth, and her daughter Annie (Sheridan Smith), the local headmistress whose husband is off in the RAF. Although there appears to be no interaction with the other evacuees outside of the classroom, the three kids become best friends with Annie’s young son Thomas (Austin Hayes), taking on the resentful gang of village children and playing hide and seek down the railway yard. Which is where they come across the pointedly named Abe (Kenneth Aikens), a Black American serviceman who has injured his leg and tells them he’s on a secret mission and has to get to Liverpool. Naturally, that’s a fib. Younger than he claims and homesick, he’s actually gone AWOL on account of the racist abuse from the white US Military Police (who brutally object to African-Americans mixing with white English girls), and so Lily and the others offer to help him escape.  And, exactly like the original film, it climaxes with a bunch of kids stopping a train to speak to a travelling important gentleman to put a stop to a miscarriage of justice (one also has to wonder if the MPs could actually handcuff a fourteen year old British civilian and ship them off to jail).

Alongside the somewhat simplified theme of racism, there’s also passing elements of tragedy involving the trio’s father (captured in Lily’s dream sequence) and Bobbie’s husband and brother, while the women try their best to protect the children’s innocence from the realities of war.  It also introduces a new character to her family in her great-uncle Walter (Tom Courtney), who has an unspecified position in the War Office and does a passable Winston Churchill impression while, in a throwaway nod to what Bobbie’s been up to for the past 40 years, she says she was a suffragette. There a gentle comic touch too with John Bradley as the village stationmaster.

A throwback to the sitting room era of the Children’s Film Foundation, even with its shoehorning in of contemporary issues, it’s hard to image youngsters – or even their parents – weaned on Marvel movies, frantic animation and ubiquitous toilet humour (one kid does complain that his carer farts, though) will make of its old-fashioned, good-natured amiability, but I guess they could take the grandparents along as a treat.

95 minutes

In Cinemas

Thor: Love and Thunder (12A)

Opening with the origin of Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale with a creepy whisper) who, when his daughter dies, possessed of the Necrosword, a mystical blade that kills gods but also corrupts its owner, swears to destroy all gods for abandoning their followers, Taika Waititi’s follow-up to Ragnorak takes the same path of mixing high drama and emotion with stirring action sequences and a rich vein of irreverent humour.

In his fourth stand-alone outing as the God of Thunder, Chris Hemsworth plays to his comedic strengths and physical presence in equal measure with a knowing self-awareness. Narrated by Korg (Waititi), an extended intro finds him still hanging out with The Guardians of The Galaxy, engaging in bouts of meditation to try and find himself and saving an alien race from Gorr’s shadow spiders (albeit destroying the temple he was supposed to protect in the process) before a vision of a wounded Sif send him to her rescue and from thence back to New Asgard where, as it comes under attack too, he’s astonished to witness the return of his once shattered hammer Mjölnir, and even more astonished to find it’s now being wielded by a new Mighty Thor, his former girlfriend (a montage explains how their separate lives led them to split), Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), the hammer following its former master’s instruction to look after her by giving her the strength (at a cost) she lacks in her human form, where she’s dying from cancer. When the children from New Asgard are abducted by Gorr, she, Thor, Korg and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) set off on a rescue vision in a long ship drawn by two giant goats, one that sees the pair reignite their romance with electrifying chemistry as well as visiting the Golden Temple for a meeting of the Gods (the God of Dumplings among them!) to try and raise an army, ending up in killing the pompous Zeus (a bizarrely accented Russell Crowe), surrounded by his Zeusettes and stealing his thunderbolt, then journeying to the Shadow Realm (for some black and white sequences) to stop Gorr before he gets to Eternity and wishes for all gods to die at once.

As such, it builds its emotional and dramatic weight as it builds to the inevitable love and sacrifice climax, the fight sequences gathering in spectacle and intensity as they go, at one point involving the kidnapped children. On the comedic side, there a theatrical re-enactment of events in Ragnorak with Matt Damon as the Loki actor, Melissa McCarthy as Hela, Sam Neill as Odin and Luke Hemsworth as Thor and also a very amusing running gag that’s essentially a romantic triangle with Thor in the middle between Mjölnir and his jealous new axe, Stormbreaker, Thor forever trying to reassure the latter that he’s still ‘the one’.

It’s not until the final moments, with Thor in a new paternal, that the title of the film manifests itself, the mid-credits sequence setting the stage for the fifth instalment as a new character declares revenge on Thor Odinson. Thunderingly good fun.

119 mins

Minions: The Rise of Gru (PG)

While essentially an origin story for Gru, as the title suggests, this Despicable Me prequel is nevertheless more focused on the yellow Twinkie-shaped characters in goggles and blue dungarees.

The story is set in 1976 where the world’s top supervillain team, the Vicious 6, evil Viking Svengeance (Dolph Lundgren), Nun Chuck (Lucy Lawless), a nun who wields her crucifix as a weapon, lobster-limbed Jean Clawed (Jean-Claude Van Damme), Stronghold (Danny Trejo) and Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), set out to steal the Zodiac Stone, an amulet that will give them world conquering power. However, when their leader, Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin), manages to survive the defence mechanisms and escape with it, the others literally cut him loose, sending him plunging to his death.

Now short of a member they advertise for a replacement. Enter young Gru (Steve Carell), a friendless schoolkid, mostly ignored by his yoga mad mother (Julie Andrews), who wants to grow up to be the world’s best supervillain, who applies to join and is invited for an interview at the gang’s secret lair beneath the Criminal Records store run by a certain Doctor Nefario (Russell Brand from Despicable Me). Laughed at and humiliated at the interview, using Nefario’s sticky fingers invention, Gru steals the amulet and takes off, setting up the rest of the plot whereby, the bulk of the action unfolding in San Francisco, he’s pursued by the gang and finds himself captured by and ending up joining forces with Knuckles, his favourite supervillain, who has survived and is now out for revenge on his former colleagues. Meanwhile, the Minions, tall skinny Kevin, one-eyed Stuart, attention-deficit Bob and new addition Otto, who traded the amulet for a pet stone at a kids’ birthday party and has to then get it back off the biker (RZA) who takes him to San Francisco,  have embarked on a  rescue mission.

As well as other nods to the original film (Will Arnett as Bank of Evil president Mr Perkins  and Steve Coogan’s Anti-Villain League boss Ramsbottom), the film tells how Gru and the Minions came together (they answered a help wanted ad and he adopted them all) and, it romps along at a manic pace with loads of slapstick cartoon violence and fart gags for the kiddies. The main Minions get their own spotlight sequences involving flying a plane to San Francisco and, in a subplot that runs on far too long, learning Kung Fu from  acupuncturist Master Chow (Michelle Yeoh), before it all winds up in a  Chinese New Year showdown.

Given the setting, it’s wall to wall with 70s in-jokes, from nods to martial arts and Bond (including a spoof theme song) to hit songs from the day (Knuckles uses disco as a torture tool), which will mean nothing to the target audience or indeed likely most of their parents, but are nevertheless all part of the fun. Even so, despite the short running time, the film does rather wear out its welcome before the post-credits bonus scene, so perhaps now may be time for Minions to take an extended break.

87 mins

lightyear family films fun

Lightyear (PG)

Quite possibly the first film to give a toy a backstory, this is basically Pixar’s origin story for the Buzz Lightyear figure from the Toy Story series, who, in the first film, was under the delusion that he was an actual Space Ranger. This answers the question as to why such an action figure existed in the first place. According to the opening credits, in 1995 young Andy was given the toy as a present,  the main character from the film he’d just seen. This is, then, that film.

Unlike in the previous films, Buzz is voiced here by Chris Evans rather than Tim Allen, and unfortunately lacks that distinctive tone, humour and phrasing, but, the character is till the same, a cocksure and somewhat egotistical Space Ranger pilot who reckons he can do everything himself (and certainly doesn’t need an irritating autopilot) and is forever narrating events into his Star Log, here on a mission with his commanding officer Hawthorne (Uzo Aduba) and a cargo of scientists in hibernation sleep, when they get signs of life from an uncharted planet. Landing their ship, which Buzz refers to as The Turnip on account of it shape, they soon discover that that life takes the form of  aggressive vines and some kind of flying insect. Trying to escape, Buzz miscalculates, leaving everyone stranded on the planet, working to rebuild the fuel crystal to achieve hyperspeed and achieve his mission of getting everyone home. However, when he takes off on a test run and fails, on his return he discovers that while he was away just four minutes, four years have passed in real time. This happens again and again, Buzz staying the same but everyone else growing older, Hawthorne gets married (to a female scientist), has a child and then a granddaughter Izzy (Keke Palmer), Returning from another failed attempt, he learns Hawthorne has passed away, leaving behind a matter-of-fact robot feline called Sox (Peter Sohn), and that her Star Command replacement is shutting down the mission, everyone having decided to stay on the planet with an energy wall  protecting them from the vines.

Well, naturally, since a Space Ranger never quits, Buzz is having none of that and, with Sox having calculated the right fuel mix, steals a ship and finally achieves hyperspeeed. However, returning with the good news, he discovers the base has had to sealed itself into the dome which is surrounded by giant robots  from a massive spaceship hovering above the planet. There’s just three rookies who have avoided such fate, Izzy, cantankerous ex-felon Darby Steel (Dale Soules), and the ultra-clumsy, nervy Mo Morrison (Taika Waititi). They it seems are Buzz’s team. Except, Buzz insists on working alone.

Matters are further complicated by the red-eyed giant robot that commands the alien craft, who Toy Story 2 fans will recognise as  Buzz’s nemesis Emperor Zurg (James Brolin) who gets his own origin with a time travel twist, the film largely comprising of a series of chases and escapes involving the previous fuel crystal they need to leave the planet while Buzz learns to think and care about someone other than himself and the mission. There’s also an amusing joke about what a sandwich might look like in the future and, of course, a regulation Disney message about home.

As brilliantly animated as ever, it’s a fun adventure with snappy dialogue and thrills, but, by taking Buzz out of his toy world setting, it somehow loses some of that charm and magic. It may still aim for infinity, but it never really goes beyond.

100 minutes

In cinema

actors looking fearful in Jurassic Park filmJurassic World: Dominion (12A)

The final instalment in the saga that kicked off in 1993 with Jurassic Park, set four years after the events of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom hat left the dinosaurs free to roam, directed by JW’s Colin Trevorrow, the selling point is the return of three of the original film’s central characters, palaeontologist Alan Grant (Sam Neill), environmentalist romantic interest Ellie Sadler (Laura Dern) and chaos theory doomsayer Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum). Their reappearance is down to a new breed of locusts with prehistoric DNA that threaten to destroy the food chain. They’re ravaging all the grain in America, except, that is, crops grown by Biosyn, a corporate that has exclusive rights regarding the containment and protection of the reptiles. It’s headed up by another Jurassic Park returnee, Lewis Dodgson (this time played by Campbell Scott), who bribed Dennis Nedry to steal embryos and who, thanks to a tip off from Malcolm, who works as a Biosyn consultant, Sadler believes to be behind things and recruits Grant to help investigate.

This is cross-fertilised with a narrative strand from the two previous films involving dino wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), his dinosaur rights activist partner Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) as their cloned step-daughter Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon). Her genetic origin is the reason, Grady and Dearing are keeping her off the grid and why she’s been hunted by a bunch of mercenaries, headed up by Soyona Santos (Dichen Lachman) hired by Biosyn so that its head scientist Dr Wu (BJ Wong back again) can use her unique DNA. She’s captured, along with Beta, a baby velociraptor she’s tamed, setting her parents and pilot-adventurer for hire Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) on a rescue mission that, after a globetrotting jaunt and a raptor-motorbike chase in Malta, eventually brings all the main cast together at Dodgson’s gigantic dinosaur-filled valley facility in the Dolemites where, in a frankly tangled web of who’s on who’s side, they end up battling assorted genetically engineered dinosaurs, who in turn battle with each other.

It’s all very busy with its chase and fight sequences, but nothing ever really comes into a coherent focus while, fatally, the dinosaurs themselves become secondary characters in their own story, while the final scene between Grady and the mommy raptor is just too cute for words. Undeniably big screen spectacular with plentiful nods to the overall saga, it never bores, but that sense of awe that Spielberg captured 29 years ago is lost in the ticking of boxes.

146 minutes

in cinemas


 

benedict cumberbatch playing Dr Strange

Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness (12A)

Director Sam Raimi returns to the MCU fold for the first time since Spider-Man 3 back in 2007 to deliver what is by far the most out there and mind-bending incursion into superhero territory yet, a dazzling cornucopia of CGI and special effects yet also driven by a strong sense of drama, character and intense human emotion. Not to mention a wealth of playful Easter Egg in-jokes about and nods to the whole interlocked franchise.

It opens with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch on multiple excellent form) battling and fatally failing to save a mysterious young woman (feisty newcomer Xochitl Gomez) who’s being chased by a monster. Then he wakes up. It’s just a nightmare but one which almost immediately becomes real when a giant one-eyed octopus-like creature attacks New York in pursuit of a very familiar-looking young girl, saving her with the help of Wong (assured presence Benedict Wong), the Sorcerer Supreme. The girl turns out to be America Chavez who possesses the power to travel between multiverses, which is what her as yet unrevealed pursuer wants for themselves.

Seeking to get to the bottom of things, and recognising indications of witchcraft Strange visits Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) for help, which turns out to be a bad move because, possessed by the Darkhold and obsessed with being reunited with her two young sons Billy and Tommy (Julian Hilliard, Jett Klyne), as seen in WandaVision, she’s become The Scarlet Witch and it’s she who’s out to take America’s powers to enable her to ‘dream-walk’ to other versions of Earth – specifically Earth-838, and replace the Wanda who still has her children. Thus, starting with a ruthless assault on Kamar-Taj, the stage is set for a series of confrontations between her and Strange as he searches for the Book of Vishanti, which lies in the space between universes and will enable him to destroy the Darkhold, in a plot that leaps between different versions of Earth (our is apparently 661) as well as different incarnations of Strange, each with their own different fates and tragedies (one himself corrupted by the Darkhold), including, in the final scenes, a zombie version of the Defender Strange killed in the opening scene, which turns out to have been real and not a dream.

Trying to explain further would only confuse matters more, but suffice to say in the course of the narrative Strange gets to meet two versions of his old flame, Christine (Rachel McAdams), whose wedding he attends at the start, one of whim is now a scientist, be betrayed by former mentor Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who believes Strange triggered an incursion that threatens all universes and meet the Illuminati, a tribunal comprising – in a sewing together of assorted MCU characters – the Inhumans’ Black Bolt (Anson Mount), Reed Richards (John Krasinski) from the Fantastic Four, that Earth’s Captain Marvel (Lashana Lynch reprising her 2019 role as Maria Rambeau), Captain Carter (Hayley Atwell), a UK version of Captain America, and Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), all of whom get to take on The Scarlet Witch in a spectacular set piece.

Those there for the kinetic thrills and eye-popping visuals are well-served and more (especially a scene that literally uses musical notes as weapons), while for those seeking deeper engagement, Olsen’s outstanding portrayal of a mother driven to madness by the loss of her children, making her an understandable if not excusable villain (“I am not a monster|” she screams), and the underlying themes of regret and a desire for second chances are the emotional weight that bedrocks the very best of the Marvel films. As ever, it wouldn’t be a Raimi film without a cameo by his muse, Bruce Campbell, who pops up in one of the universes as a street vendor of pizza balls and is enchanted by Strange into slapping himself. Likewise there’s the inevitable mid-credits sequence (with Charlize Theron as sorceress and comic book love interest Clea taking Strange – now with third eye – off to another dimensional battle) and, for those who appreciate a sucker punch joke, one more right at the very end. Exhilarating and poignant to the max, Spider-Man: No Way Home could well be toppled from its throne.

125 minutes

In cinemas


actors in Fantastic Beasts

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (12A)

The third of the planned five films in JK Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts franchise is a welcome and darker (and in one scene very gruesome) step up from the entertaining but far from magical The Crimes of Grindelwald, again directed by David Yates and with a quietly intense Mads Mikkelsen brilliantly stepping into Gellert Grindelwald’s shoes after the grandstanding Johnny Depp was requested to depart. However, while the storyline is more focused its so complicated you need to be extremely au fait with The Wizarding World to place the many characters and their roles within it and, again, it can, especially in the first two-thirds, sometimes prove confusing, not to say incoherent, in keeping up with the dizzying narrative switches.

Working with co-writer Steve Kloves, Rowling has scaled back the role of Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) to a mere cameo but bumped up that of Charms Professor “Lally” Hicks (Jessica Williams complete with eccentric enunciation) to become an essential member of the team assigned to bring down Grindelwald, who, recruited by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), here revealed as his former lover and who cannot fight him himself on account of a magical blood pact, also line up as magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), his brother Theseus (Callum Tuner), head Aura from the British Ministry of Magic, French wizard Yusuf Kama (William Nadlyam) whose half-sister was killed at a Grindelwald rally, Newt’s assistant Bunty Broadacre (Victoria Yeates) and muggle baker Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), still heartbroken after his mag lover, Queenie (Alison Sudol), Tina’s sister, believing he’d help her marry him, threw in her lot with Grindelwald.
Opposing them, alongside Grindelwald is, among others, Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller), who, at the end of the last film, was revealed to actually be Aurelius Dumbledore, the illegitimate son of Albus’s inn-owning brother Aberforth (Richard Coyle), who, since he can’t do it himself, has been ordered by Grindelwald to kill his newly discovered uncle.

The magical menagerie has also been downsized, reduced to just a few (living twig Pickett and the Niffler return), including a bunch of scorpion-like creatures that afford an amusing scene for Newt (rescuing his brother) to demonstrate limbic mimicry and, more importantly, the qilin, which can look into to people’s souls to see who has a pure heart. As such, it plays a pivotal role in the film which is set around the upcoming elections for the new Supreme Head. Thus, following the prologue flashback between Albus and Grindelwald, the film cuts to Newt attending the birth of the new qilin, only for the mother to be killed by Credence and his crew and the baby kidnapped so his master can harness its powers of precognition. What they don’t know is that the mother had twins. Now, to stop Grindelwald, who has been exonerated of his crimes and declared a third candidate for the election against Brazilian Minister Santos (Maria Fernanda Cândido) and Chinese Minister Liu (Dave Wong), by employing “countersight” – deliberately misleading to create confusion and hide their actual intentions (a similar ploy to be found in the upcoming Operation Mincemeat), Albus and his team have to ensure it remains safe and that they themselves aren’t killed in the process.

That’s the nuts and bolts of the plot, the secrets of the title relating to the entire Dumbledore family (including a dead sister adding to the tragedies) rather than just Albus, as each of the team carry out their allocated parts of the plan, the locations variously switching between London, Austria, New York, Berlin, Bhutan and, yes, Hogwarts, while Grindelwald’s campaign to fuel and exploit the hatred and bigotry bubbling up clearly has as many resonances with today’s world as in the Nazi 30s. Themes of the outsider and the abandoned loom large, often to emotionally affecting power, while naturally it’s awash with spectacular visual effects, thrilling chases, electrifying action and all manner of wand face-offs (Jacob is even gifted his own by Dumbledore) before and an ending that is both radiantly happy but, for one character, a reminder that they are forever alone. As such, while an exhilarating roller-coaster ride for the faithful, it might have been a better idea to have killed off Grindelwald here and ended the series, since what follows leading up to the ultimate showdown can surely only feel like an over-extended anti-climactic afterthought.
142 minutes
In cinemas


Sandra Bullock in Lost City film

The Lost City (12A)

Essentially a revamp of Romancing The Stone (which it dutifully references), co-directors Aaron and Adam Nee make no attempt to disguise the implausibility of the plot, but fully immerse themselves in the spirit of old time Saturday matinee adventure romps. Sandra Bullock is the Kathleen Turner figure, a bestselling but lonely romance novelist Loretta Sage who has lost enthusiasm for her work since her archaeologist husband died. And so, having been persuaded by her publicist Beth (a fun Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and social media wrangler (a wonderfully deadpan Patti Harrison) to take on a promotional tour for her latest book, The Lost City Of D, during which, wearing a sparkly figure-hugging pink jumpsuit and high heels, she announces that, if there’s a follow-up, she’s going to kill off its heartthrob hero, Dash, which comes as something of shock to Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), the not too bright but hunky model (she calls him a talking body wash commercial) who has been the franchise’s blond-wigged cover star and a big hit with the ladies.

However, they soon have bigger things to worry about when billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe rehashing his Now You See Me 2 villain with added daddy issues) kidnaps her believing that, as her books are based on historic research she did with her deceased husband, she can decipher the characters on a map fragment that will lead him to the fabled Crown of Fire, a priceless diamond headdress described in the book and supposedly hidden in the lost city he’s discovered on a remote Atlantic island, but which is about to be destroyed by an active volcano. He carts her off to the island while Alan, who harbours a secret crush, enlists Zen adventurer Jack Trainer (a tousled Brad Pitt), a former Navy SEAL turned CIA operative, to meet him at the island (tracking her via her Apple watch) and rescue her, insisting on tagging along. Jack does indeed rescue her from the compound in a display of derring-do, but an unexpected development quickly leaves her and Alan to fend for themselves, lost in the jungle, Loretta trying follow the clues on the map, pursued by Fairfax’s goons. Meanwhile, with help from an eccentric cargo pilot (Oscar Nunez), Beth is also on the trail.

There’s not much more to the plot than that; as you’d expect a connection begins to spark between the pair, each learns more about themselves, there’s chases, fights and a Raiders Of The Lost Ark styled climax when the treasure is found and its secret revealed, while, along the way, Loretta has to pluck leeches off the water-allergic Alan’s naked body with the inevitable innuendos that entails.
Bullock and Tatum have fizzing chemistry, swapping banter as they go, while she again demonstrates her physical comedy skills to good effect, the film romping entertainingly along without requiring audiences to engage their brain, although the now inevitable mid-credits sequence does rather spoil the film’s biggest OMG moment.

112 minutes

In cinemas


cartoon characters in Sonic 2 film

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (PG)

The live-action debut of the Sega game’s superfast sarcastic blue alien hedgehog proved far better than anyone expected, with even Jim Carrey back on form. Two years on and the sequel falls considerably short of that mark. Now happily ensconced with his adoptive Montana family, Green Hills sheriff Tom Wachowski (James Marsden) aka “donut lord and his wife Maddie (Tika Sumpter), Sonic (Ben Schwartz) secretly sets out to become the local superhero but, when he foils an armoured car robbery and causes chaos in the process, he’s told in no uncertain manner (and borrowed from Spider-Man) that power requires responsibility, and he’ll know his moment to shine when it comes.

Meanwhile, on Mushroom Planet to which he was banished, Dr Robotnik (Carrey) engineers his escape by opening a portal, through which comes the big-fisted red and angry spiny ant-eater Knuckles (a drolly overly-serious Idris Elba), who blames Sonic for the extinction of his echidas tribe and is seeking revenge, naturally leading to he and Robotnik with his drone army teaming up to track down and take possession of the Master Emerald, green gem that bestows unstoppable power, the location of which (Siberia), it turns out, Sonic has a map. Adding to the character list is yellow young alien fox Tails (Colleen O’Shaughnessey) with his two-tails (which he uses to fly), an inventor and big admirer of Sonic who’s travelled to Earth to warn him about Knuckles.

Sidelining Tom and Maddie to Hawaii, where they’re attending her sister Rachel’s (a very funny Natasha Rothwell) wedding (cue the unsupervised Sonic partying wildly) , until the final act reunion with its FBI sting reveal and climatic showdown with a now hyper-powered Robotnik and his giant war-machine creation, the film spends most of its time in a series of chases and fights between the two opposing camps, reviving and expanding the role of Robotnik’s adoring sidekick, Agent Stone (Lee Majdoub) along the way.

Mixing in subtler comic touches with the more lowbrow kid-friendly knockabout and Carrey’s quite possibly improvised pop-culture quips while unashamedly piling up the product placement (Oreos and the Four Seasons hotels at the top of the list), it doesn’t warrant the extended two hour running time, resorting to repetition to stretch things out. However, while somewhat overly indulging Carrey’s manic energy and facial gurning, the animation and FX, marrying the digital work with the real world, are again impressive the messages about family, friendship, working together and what makes a hero get spelled out without being too in your face and the voice work brings the game characters to engaging life and deliver pretty much everything its audience wants. With a sequel and pin-off already in the works, the Blue Blur hasn’t run out of steam yet.

122 minutes

In cinemas


cartoon dancing Bad Guys film

The Bad Guys (U)

Essentially Ocean’s Eleven with animals, Dreamworks delivers a fun adaptation of the graphic novels involving a gang of bad guys with a difference. They’re headed up by Mr Wolf (Sam Rockwell), the snappily-dressing lupine answer to George Clooney, with Marc Maron as his sarcastic, scaly safe-cracking best friend Mr Snake in a Hawaiian shirt, snarky ace hacker Ms Tarantula (Awkwafina), also known as Mata Hairy, diminutive hot-blooded muscleman Mr Piranha (Anthony Ramos) and Mr Shark (Craig Robinson) who, incredulously, is a master of disguise (a highlight scene has him posing as a pregnant woman).

Master criminals who effortlessly evade the police, their lair is stuffed with loot (a Mona Lisa here, a priceless diamond there), but Mr Wolf is a little tired of always being seen as well, the big bad wolf. They just need to pull off one last big heist so they can retire from their life of crime. This will be the theft of the Golden Dolphin presented at an annual charity gala for the year’s most outstanding Good Samaritan. However, in the attempt, their luck finally runs out and they’re apprehended, much to the glee of their long time human police chief nemesis Luggins (Alex Borstein). But, unexpectedly, the intended recipient, guinea pig philanthropist Professor Marmalade (Richard Ayoade) suggests that rather than sending them to jail, they under an experimental reform course, a proposal to which the Mayor, Diane Foxington (Zazie Beetz), agrees, offering the crew one last chance to turn over a new leaf. Given he’s already felt the tingle of what being good might be like after helping an old lady rather than stealing her handbag, causing his tail to wag, Mr Wolf is genuinely up for it, his colleagues somewhat less convinced. Under Marmalade’s coaching, the aim is to use their skills for good; however, it soon transpires that not everything or everyone are what or who they seem. Suffice to say, the plot involves kitten rescue missions, another gala heist, the theft of a power source meteor, mind control, the gang falling out, double and triple-crosses, a betrayal, the reveal of a superthief, and thousands of marauding zombie guinea pigs pulling off armoured car robberies as Mr Wolf and his remaining cronies try and stop the mastermind’s diabolical plan. All with an underlying message about not judging a book by its cover, or animals by the bad reputations they’ve been labelled with.

Slickly animated with a strong cartoonish style and written by Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa’s Etan Cohen, there’s plenty of twists and turns in its frenetic pacing and youngsters not paying attention might easily end up confused, but, while it follows a fairly predictable and well-worn path, there’s more than enough slapstick and farting (Mr Piranah emits green gas when he lies) by way of recompense.

100 minutes

In cinemas


 

man and boy in plane in Adam Project
The Adam Project (12)

“The future is coming sooner than you think”, harassed mother Ellie Reed (an underused Jennifer Garner) tells her all-attitude 12-year-old son Adam (Walker Scobell) after he’s suspended following an altercation with the school bully. And indeed it is, but not in quite the way she imagined. His father having died in an accident two years earlier, young Adam has buried his grief in being mouthy and giving his mom a hard time. While she’s out on a date, he investigates a noise in the woods outside their home and, returning to the house, finds the garage open and in it a wounded pilot (Ryan Reynolds) who seems to uncannily know a lot about him, the house and even the name of his dog, Hawking. Not surprisingly really, since he’s actually his future self who, as seen in the opening sequence, has fled from 2050, where’s he’s being chased by another spacecraft, and wound up in 2022, four years on from when he’d intended.

Reuniting Reynolds with Free Guy director Shawn Levy, this has a similar self-aware playful style with Reynolds again doing his snarky, irreverent quick fire patter to hugely entertaining effect, the film cheerfully acknowledging its borrowings from Back To The Future, Star Wars (Adam wields a double-sided light sabre) and Spielberg’s Amblin universe. Older bearded Adam has come from the future in search of his wife Laura (Zoe Saldaña) who, supposedly, was killed trying to return from 2018, something he simply doesn’t buy (rightly so, since she turns up to save him). His other reason for trying to get back to 2018 was to stop his father, Louis (Mark Ruffalo), developing time travel, his creation having been usurped his then partner, Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener), who has used it to take control of the future that, as Adam describes it is like Terminator 2 on a good day, and, it would seem, have Laura killed. So now, older Adam and younger Adam have to join forces (his wound, which farts blood, means he needs his young self’s DNA to unlock his craft) to fight off Sorian’s forces and get back in time to prevent their father’s creation ever taking place. Sorian, meanwhile, links up with her own younger self (who she helped amass a fortune through knowing what investments would pay off), to ensure that doesn’t happen.

This, of course, is just the action-driven plot (sequences set to rock classics like Gimme Some Lovin’, Boston’s Long Time and Led Zeppelin’s Good Times, Bad Times) on which to hang the film’s real narrative about loss, grief, how you handle it and how it can change you, the two Adams, the brain and the brawn, giving each other life-lessons about their father issues and getting in touch or reconnecting with their feelings as the film rolls along, turning its own logic upside down as Louis warns them that meeting themselves (and an eight-year-old Adam makes it all the more complicated) can cause all sort of cosmic chaos.

As such, Scobell and Reynolds have a great time riffing off each other while, when they both get reunited with their befuddled not yet dead dad, the film cranks up the emotional level as everyone gets to confront and put to rights the absent-father syndrome that has shaped their personalities. Short and fluffily slight it may be, but, while bearing in mind some mild bad language and sexual innuendo, it’s one of the year’s most enjoyable films so far.

106 minutes

Netflix


 

Not all 12A films are appropriate for younger children. Let’s Go With The Children offers a guide to what’s suitable for family viewing.

For ideas and inspiration for places to go with your family to ideas and inspirations for things to do at home. Sign up to our e-newsletter here for all this information delivered safely to your inbox.
Signup